City continues to provide relief to ease impact of Eskom load-shedding on its customers

08 Sep 2020 in Where We Govern

As Eskom last week resumed the economy-destroying practice of load-shedding, the City of Cape Town was again able to provide a measure of relief to residents through its additional energy generation and spare residents one level of load shedding, where possible. Importantly, at times, such as today, City-supplied customers are the only ones in South Africa completely spared from load-shedding.

The City will continue to protect its customers where it can. It also continues to work aggressively to move away from the primary reliance on Eskom to power the city.

We understand the frustration from residents and business as Eskom resumed load-shedding at a time when businesses are just getting back on their feet.

Fortunately, through the generation of additional capacity using the City’s Steenbras Pumped Storage Plant and other management interventions, we are able to limit the impact to customers supplied by the city. We will continue to do our best to protect our customers on the lowest stages of load-shedding, being stages 1, 2 and 3, where possible.

The City generates additional capacity to protect customers from one stage of load-shedding, where we are able to do so. While we are the only city in the country that can provide this extra relief to our residents, it is also a reality that National Government is limiting us from doing even more to alleviate our current sole reliance on Eskom.

We will be the first metro and province to break the sole reliance on power from Eskom if we get the legal clarity required from National Government on our efforts to procure cleaner, cheaper and more secure energy from Independent Power Producers (IPPs). We will continue to pursue avenues that will enable consumers to purchase renewable energy directly from IPPs to lessen the burden load-shedding places on residents and businesses.

Due to the City’s proactive maintenance planning and management, the massive scheduled maintenance of the Steenbras Pumped Storage Plant, which included extensive and intricate underground work concluded in time for the higher winter demand trends that we see in South Africa. I want to congratulate all involved in this maintenance project for their professionalism and efficiency and for simply getting the job done. The City has thus been able to protect its customers from load-shedding to a substantial degree. The City prioritises maintenance of its infrastructure to the highest standard.

Steenbras Pumped Storage Plant: How it works

  • Electricity generated during relatively low-cost off-peak periods is used to pump water from a lower to an upper storage reservoir. During periods of peak demand, the water is released back to the lower reservoir, thereby generating electricity like a conventional hydroelectric power station.
  • Hydroelectricity is produced using the gravitational force of falling or flowing water to power an electricity generator.
  • The Western Cape does not have a big enough body of water to produce the amount of electricity we’d need to meet all of our power needs in Cape Town and surrounds, but we do have small hydro generators on schemes like the Steenbras scheme. This is why the City can often avoid load-shedding if it is on the lowest level and there is enough generation capacity, or can, where possible, remain on a lesser stage than Eskom has requested

The Steenbras Pumped Storage Plant was the first hydro-electric pumped storage scheme in Africa. Each of the station’s four 45 000 kW generator units acts as a pump-motor in one mode and a turbine-generator in the other.

Tips to reduce the pressure on the Eskom grid:

  • Dress warmly and try to reduce the use of electrical heaters if required
  • Please reduce usage and flatten the evening peak by doing chores that require electricity, such as washing and bathing, ahead of the evening peak where at all possible

Reducing household energy consumption not only helps with the pressure on Eskom’s supply, it is more climate-friendly and helps households cut electricity usage.

For more information on how to reduce usage, please visit

Nuisance tripping

Residents are encouraged to be mindful that they may also be experiencing outages due to Eskom’s load-shedding. When power is restored, nuisance tripping sometimes occurs. This is when the power is restored to an area and fails to come back on in some parts. Customers are requested to treat load-shedding outages that exceed 2,5 hours as unplanned outages. Please report these via the City’s service channels.

In the event of load-shedding, residents are encouraged to reduce the risk and occurrence of nuisance tripping by switching off appliances, including geysers, air conditioners and pool pumps prior to load-shedding and leaving one light on to indicate the return of the supply.